There are still 444 days until the 2020 Iowa Democratic caucuses, but like Christmas decorations in stores in October, presidential hopefuls are already appearing in the state. Marianne Williamson, who announced the formation of an exploratory committee for a possible presidential campaign on Thursday, is in Iowa for a series of meet-and-greets and house parties in Des Moines and Winterset this weekend.
In an online message about her Iowa visit, Williamson writes, “With the midterms over, it’s time to start co-creating the next chapter in American history.”
Williamson is a best-selling author, and has written many books that emphasize the spiritual aspects of a range of topics including weight loss (A Course in Weight Loss: 21 Spiritual Lessons for Surrendering Your Weight Forever), personal finance (The Law of Divine Compensation: On Work, Money and Miracles), relationships (Enchanted Love: The Mystical Power of Intimate Relationships) and politics (Healing the Soul of America: Reclaiming Our Voices as Spiritual Citizens). She was a frequent guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show, and lectures widely.
“For the last year I have held within my heart the idea of running for President of the United States,” Williamson wrote in a letter posted on her exploratory committee’s site. She goes on to explain:
Our political circumstances are not simply a product of external policies, but even more so of internal dynamics like fear, desperation, hope and yearning. The mindset of the current political establishment neither acknowledges nor understands the deeper emotional and psychological rivers that underlie political forces on the move today.
In 2014, Williamson, a California resident, ran as an independent in an unsuccessful attempt to unseat incumbent Democratic congressman Henry Waxman. LA Weekly described her agenda as “a fairly standard progressive to-do list: Overturn Citizens United; rein in food companies like Monsanto; halt the extension of the Keystone pipeline; block the United States’ entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement that she says will ‘trump national sovereignty’ (an argument many make against the World Trade Organization); and stop drone strikes, surveillance programs and wars of aggression.”
If her issues weren’t unusual for a Los Angeles-area Democrat, her campaign rhetoric was. “I want us all to look at this campaign as a collective act of love,” she told voters.
It’s a statement she echoes in the video announcing the formation of her exploratory committee.
After saying Americans need to “push back against all forces which would repudiate the principles on which we stand,” Williamson continues,
If I run, that’s what this is going to be about. It’s going to be a co-creative effort — an effort of love and a gift of love to our country, and hopefully to our world, by which we take the United States of America back to the truth of who we are.
In the video and letter on her Marianne Williamson for America site, the potential candidate focuses on “paradigms” and “mindsets,” rather than issues. But in October, Pat Rynard of Iowa Starting Line attended a small gathering in Polk City during which Williamson talked about a variety of issues.
The Sunday event opened with a poem reading from a supporter, and her speech and lengthy discussion with attendees ping-ponged between national and historical topics, and included occasional quotes from Gandhi, Adam Smith and Louis Brandeis. She touched briefly on a variety of issues, from the Clean Air Act, to slavery reparations, to mass incarceration to pesticides.
But by and large, Williamson laid out a vision for the country based on a set of very progressive policy ideas. She focused in on many economic inequality topics that [Bernie] Sanders highlighted during his run [Williamson was a prominent Sanders supporter in 2016], and knocked the Democratic Party for getting too close to corporate donors.
Although she may focus more on spiritual matters of a non-biblical variety more than a typical candidate, Williamson is also a practical campaigner. By setting up an exploratory committee, she can accept donations while essentially campaigning, without that money counting against donor contribution limits imposed on an official candidate. Prominently displayed between the video and the letter on Williamson’s site is a large pink “Donate” button.
The Iowa Democratic caucuses will be held on Feb. 3, 2020. Two candidates have already formally declared as presidential candidates: Congressman John Delaney, a Maryland Democrat, and President Donald Trump.